Tuesday, April 15, 2008

To be or not to be.... there are many questions

Tango attracts passionate people, which is a good thing. I believe that you have to have a passionate disposition in order to feel the dance, feel the music, find the connection and express the emotion. It is part of the attraction of the dance. Almost like a slight edge of danger due to the undercurrents.

And yet the flip of this is that it can easily degrade into flinging sand in the sandbox when people feel that they are "right" someone else is "wrong" or there is a difference of beliefs on a basic level. This is why I left a tango list. It got to the point where I was not reading any posts anymore because I did not want to deal with all the assertions of right and wrong about an art form that in its essence is improvisational, and therefor fluid. I know people who are anti-nuevo, anti-traditional, anti-alternative, anti-Piazzola, anti-occasional dancer, and so forth and so on. And they are all right and they are all wrong. It's all opinion and preference. And yet the force with which they assert their beliefs sometimes takes me aback. Tango is a large umbrella and envelops many styles, ideas, concepts and beliefs. Being judgemental, in my mind, does not help with the image tango has. I have also noticed a trend among some of the writings that I read where similar assertions have been creeping in. It really makes one want to say "Shut up and Dance!"

I was questioned recently about why I dance with such a range of leaders. Some of my favorite leaders have very different styles and preferences within tango. One is a very traditional milonguero with a slight V frame, another is nuevo with sweeping and dynamic moves, another is very experimental with a traditional base, and then there is Sorin :-), dynamic and musical who takes what he likes from different styles, although his base is traditional. The person who questioned me saw me dance a milonga set with the milonguero and then a tango set with the nuevo, and they could not understand how it was that not only did I change leader styles abruptly, but my "style" also radically changed between leaders. They could not understand why I did not have my own voice. My answer is that I do have my own voice, ask any leader who dances with me and I would like to think that they would say that I do have a clear style/voice/contribution. But I adapt to the style they lead. I don't think this makes me lesser of a follower. I would like to think it makes me better because I have not pigeon holed myself into one aspect of tango.

They thought I was crazy and did not believe me when I said that I enjoy all of these styles.
It disappointed me that they felt this way. If one adamantly dances one way , in my opinion, one misses out on so many aspects of tango that it makes me a little sad.

I feel as though there needs to be acceptance towards the aspects that one does not particularly like/relate to/connect with and a willingness to explore within the art the different shades and hues that tango offers.

You may laugh at me, but I heard on random on my iTunes as I was writing this - Rainbow Connection from the Muppet Movie - and the lyrics sounded incredibly apropos....

What's so amazing
That keeps us star gazing
What do we think we might see

Someday we'll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

All of us are under its spell

We know that its probably magic.

I've heard it too many times to ignore it
Its something I'm supposed to be

Someday we'll find it
That Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me


Caroline said...

Some people have such strong preferences for one style that they cannot imagine anyone else enjoying a wider spectrum of tango styles.
I am very traditional and yet there are a couple of neuvo-influenced leaders I love dancing with - both in Montreal and in Buenos Aires where I met some amazing European dancers.
I think if we like the dancing, and it feels good, irrespective of what style it is, then that is all that matters.

ModernTanguera said...

I love this post. I, too, enjoy dancing a range of styles with a range of leaders within an evening. I once told my boyfriend that I feel a little sorry for him and other leaders - they tend to find a style or a repertoire of moves that they lead well and stick with that, while I can adapt to the many styles that are led. As a result, I get a much more dynamic experience throughout the night as I go from leader to leader. But of course we have our own voice and style as we do this! :D Thank you for articulating so well what I had been thinking.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I agree that Tango draws passionate people as much as curious people. The passion is then cultivated through tango.

As for the other - Everyone has their preferences - I'm a traditionalist, though I occasionally enjoy Nuevo influences. The trick is to suspend judgment towards those with different tastes.

La Tanguerita said...

Some time ago La Tanguera wrote a post (Unfortunately I can't find it right now) about what Geraldine Rojas once said. It went like "The woman doesn’t have a style of her own, but she has a personality. When she dances, she adapts to the style of the man." Stroke me as strange back then, but now I think, there is a lot of truth to it.

Alex said...

Debbi gets it!

Followers do not have a style. They adopt the style of the leader. This is the sign of a truly great fpllower.

I bow, very deeply, as if I were bowing to a queen...

Debbi said...

Ladies - thanks for you comments!
Caro you are right, if it feels good, then that is what matters. Connection and communication. That's tango in my mind.
Tanguerita, I had never heard that quote from Geraldine, goddess that she is, and it is right on. We don't have a style, we have a voice and personality.
Ha! Alex, you crack me up. :-) No queen here, just a tango dancer.

Anonymous said...

A very nice and lucid post! :-)

I'd say that an amazing follower will have their own personality in every style ! :)

Red shoes said...

I'm with you on the style thing as well...I've never been quite sure what anyone might mean if they asked my style. I'm a follower--it means exactly what it sounds like! As for the how or why of dancing with leaders of different styles, well: everyone's got something to offer. What a monochromatic tango world it must be for someone to only dance with one kind of dancer...